Earlier in the week it was my 28th birthday. In the last year a lot has changed in my life, so to celebrate, here are the 28 most important things I've learned while I was 27. These are the big things from the last year - some are serious, others not so much.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTSThe worst feeling in the world, is knowing that you should do or say something, but because of fear you choose not to act. Work on having that feeling as little as possible. Our instincts have developed over time not simply to save us from dangerous situations, but to also help us do the right thing - don't fight them. Be brave enough to trust yourself.
MONEY CAN BUY HAPPINESSObviously after a certain point the money doesn't matter. Until you get to that point though, save your money and live below your means. Your future self will appreciate it.
GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHESObviously I was familiar with grilled cheese before I turned 27, but this past year marked the return of this heavenly invention in my life. They are easy, fast, inexpensive snacks that you can customize in all sorts of ways. Unless you have an issue with dairy, eat more grilled cheese sandwiches, you will see an increase in happiness of at least 1000%*.
SPEND MORE TIME WITH GREAT PEOPLEThis might be the most important point on this list. If the people around you aren't influencing you to be the best possible version of yourself, then you need to start spending time with different people. The easiest and most effective way to learn something is to watch someone else and model their behavior - get around people who are worth modeling.
FORCE YOURSELF OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONEOne of my favorite quotes this year was from Brene Brown. When she was on Tim Ferriss' podcast, she said,"he or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest but also rises the fastest." Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
THE WORLD RESPONDS TO GENEROSITYGive, give, give. I started this blog to share my point of view because I think there might be value for other people, and I've gotten so much more in return than I could have imagined. Whether it's advice, money, or time, give as much as you can to people and causes you care about.
READ BIOGRAPHIESYour challenges, fears, hopes, and dreams aren't new. In the history of the world there is someone who has avoided what you want to avoid, changed what you want to change, and done what you want to do. Learn from them. Personal favorites of the past year were about George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, both written by Ron Chernow (who is a truly brilliant biographer).
QUALITYWhen investing in anything, buy the best that you can afford. Don't be foolish with your money, but don't be cheap. Cheap things don't last and will end up costing you more in the end. This holds true not just for things you buy, but also with time you invest in people. Don't waste your time on just anybody, be discerning, be patient, and spend your time with the best people.
WATCH WHERE YOU'RE WALKINGLiterally. I hurt my ankle/foot very badly while walking in the city. I wasn't paying attention and stepped on uneven pavement. It kept me out of serious exercise for 2 months. Not fun.
MODERATIONWith anything you consume, practice moderation. Some people figured this out a long time ago. I wasn't one of those people, but now I get it.
STOP WATCHING THE NEWSI've always watched the news, I love knowing what's going on in the world and I still do. But let's be honest with each other, most of the time, the news is complete bullshit. The news is a business. It's a business that makes money by attracting an audience and then selling that audience to advertisers. That's why you only hear the most salacious and outrageous stories. It's also why Donald Trump has received an ungodly amount of coverage for his racist and bigoted antics. Long story short, protect your mind and don't allow yourself to get caught up in the nonsense.
GET TO KNOW PEOPLE WHO AREN'T LIKE YOUI wrote a post about this earlier in the year and I think we could fix a lot of problems in the world if we got to know each other better.
STAY YOUNGAs you get older stay abreast of what the next generation is working on and creating. Don't get stuck in your ways or you will quickly become obsolete. Change is the only constant.
DRESS SLIGHTLY BETTER THAN YOU THINK YOU SHOULDYou'll look good and feel good, both of which are always important.
LIMIT TIME SPENT WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU UNHAPPYOften we just put up with these draining people. Stop. Life is too short. Be aware of how much time you're spending around energy-draining people and limit it as much as possible.
BE WATERBruce Lee said, "Water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend." Taking his thought one step farther, water also wears everything down over time and always gets where its going. Don't worry about changing your life or the world in one grand act. Be persistent and consistent (shout out to Walt "Clyde" Frazier) and it's amazing what can happen.
ORGANIZATIONKeeping your living and working spaces neat and orderly helps. If you're like me and this is a challenge, keep working on it. It's worth it.
GO TO THE DOCTORAs with anything else, ignoring your health won't help - be smart and get yourself checked out.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE FOR A REASONDon't be passive or waste time, but learn to slow down and be patient. It will save you a lot of grief and it will also cause you to look like less of an asshole.
PREPAREThings rarely go according to plan. Prepare for different outcomes. It seems like more work, but it ends up making your life easier. Prepare your lunch and get your gym clothes ready the night before, start working on that school or work project when it's assigned rather than the last minute, get healthy and save money now so your body and bank account are in proper working order later in life.
DON'T RUSH TO JUDGEMENTAs a Knicks fan, I was confused by the team selecting Kristaps Porzingis. Turns out the kid has skills and heart. Judge people by what they do, not what they say or what others say about them.
POV MATTERSSpecifically in entertainment. Thewz and I talked about this after watching shows like Master of None and Jessica Jones. It's amazing how different a show can seem when it's not centered around white men. With all the distribution channels we have, there is room for everyone's story to be told. Make an effort to see the world through someone else's point of view.
BE REALISTICThis doesn't mean be negative or lower expectations. Just be honest about a situation so that you can move forward. Fighting reality will kill you. Here's an example: Want to lose 20 pounds this year? That's great! But if you don't exercise or change your diet it won't happen. Be realistic! Can you lose 20 pounds? Yes. Are there things you need to do to lose 20 pounds? Yes. Are you prepared to do those things? Yes. Okay great, start doing those things. If you aren't ready to do what it takes, then be honest with yourself up front and go after that goal another time.
GET MORE SLEEPI was asking a friend of mind how she consistently wakes up early and gets things done. Her answer was shocking - she goes to bed at a reasonable hour to ensure that she gets rest. Revolutionary, I know. Nas famously said,"I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death." This sounds cool, but it's stupid. There are endless stories about our business heroes and genius' who stay up for hours on end and accomplish amazing things. We all want to be like these people but what we forget about are all the people who actually slept and accomplished great things. There are a lot of them.
GO BACK TO YOUR ROOTSWhat did you enjoy when you were younger? Go back to those things every now and then. Don't lose touch with things that have stirred your soul.
DAREEveryone has played Truth or Dare. The real fun part of the game comes from the dares. The same thing goes for the rest of your life. The exciting parts are the ones that scare you at first. Dare more.
THINK LONG TERMHow will people remember you? It's not just a thought experiment, it's a question that can help inform your day-to-day decision making. 20 years ago, Kobe Bryant came into the NBA with the desire to be one of the all-time great players. Fast forward 20 years and he is one of the all-time great NBA players. It's not an accident.
LISTEN TO CRITICISM, BUT DON'T INTERNALIZE ITNo one is perfect. Not even me, I hate to admit. If we tune out the criticism we receive, we are missing out on valuable feedback. If someone is critical of you, listen to what they have to say, but don't take it personally. There might be some truth in what they're saying. Learn to be as objective as possible when it comes to analyzing your potential weaknesses - it's the only way to improve them.
* I am not a doctor and I just made this up, so please make your own dieting decisions.